Senate leaders dodge questions about proposal to end retirement health care for future teachers & state employees

The News & Observer reports that when faced with questions about why the Senate included a provision in its budget proposal that would end retirement health care for future teachers and state employees, some Senate leaders wouldn’t talk.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, who chairs the Pensions, Retirement and Aging Committee, said he couldn’t comment on the proposal because it came from the Senate’s top budget writers – not his committee. And Sen. Harry Brown, one of the chamber’s lead budget writers, walked away from a reporter without speaking when asked about the change.

Calls from N.C. Policy Watch to Senators Brown and Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) also went unanswered as we worked on a story last week highlighting the budget provision, which would eliminate state-paid health retirement benefits for teachers and state employees who are hired after January 1, 2016.

Senator Phil Berger’s office did talk to the N&O, however.

“North Carolina has a massive $26 billion unfunded liability for retiree medical coverage, and the Senate budget is a prudent way to address the long-term viability of the State Health Plan,” said Shelly Carver, a spokeswoman for Senate leader Phil Berger.

Chuck Stone, lobbyist for the State Employees Association of NC (SEANC), told the N&O (as well as Policy Watch) that the Senate’s plan isn’t the way to go.

“Once you take [the health retirement benefit] away, what incentive is there to work for the state?” said Stone. “We are in a rush to have the worst State Health Plan coverage in the United States of America.”

Check out Chris Fitzsimon’s column on the Senate’s plan to end health retirement benefits for future teachers and state employees published this morning.


  1. Jim Wiseman

    June 25, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Right or wrong, this is sure to affect decisions of future teachers. My son enters college this fall planning to teach elemenrary education. But he is already planning to teach in another state.

  2. Katherine

    June 25, 2015 at 11:34 am

    One very serious question needs to be asked of these legislators. Are their retirement benefits and future elected state officials’ retirement benefits also on the chopping block? If they have not included themselves and future elected officials’ benefits, they need to do so. If a budget reduction needs to happen, wouldn’t it be better for all benefits to be reduced, rather than just for the people who actually keep the state of North Carolina educated and operating.

  3. Pertains!

    June 25, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    The house and senate members probably get lifetime pensions for just working a few years.
    If the elected powers had to work 20 years or until 65 years of age to get the bare bone benefits NC employees receive only the very wealthy would ever run for election and most of them only run for election to increase own assets.

  4. Neal Lieberman

    June 25, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Recently I watched a number of seniors graduate at the high school where I work. As each student walked up the stage there was mention of what field they planned to enter. There was not a single graduate that planned to go into teaching.

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